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Molecular Phylogenetic and Evolutionary Studies of Parasitic Plants

Chapter

Abstract

The parasitic nutritional mode is a frequently evolved adaptation in animals (Price, 1980), as well as in flowering plants (Kuijt, 1969). Heterotrophic angiosperms can be classified as either mycotrophs or as haustorial parasites. The former derive nutrients via a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. Haustorial parasites, in contrast, directly penetrate host tissues via a modified root called a haustorium and thereby obtain water and nutrients. Although such categories are often a matter of semantics, we use the term parasite in a strict sense to refer to haustorial parasites. Angiosperm parasites are restricted to the dicot subclasses Magnoliidae, Rosidae, and Asteridae; have evolved approximately 11 times; and represent approximately 22 families, 265 genera, and 4,000 species, that is, about 1% of all angiosperms (Fig. 8.1). Owing to their unique adaptations, parasitic plants have long been the focus of anatomical, morphological, biochemical, systematic, and ecological research (Kuijt, 1969; Press and Graves, 1995). For the vast majority of parasitic plants, negative effects upon the host are difficult to detect, yet others (e.g., Striga, Orobanche) are serious weeds of economically important crops (Kuijt, 1969; Musselman, 1980; Eplee, 1981; Stewart and Press, 1990; Press and Graves, 1995).

Keywords

Substitution Rate Plastid Genome Plant Molecular Biology Parasitic Plant Plastid Gene 
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